Oranges and Lemons Nursery Rhyme A Melody from Childhood


By Cynthia-G-Toups

The “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme is a beloved and timeless melody that has been passed down through generations, captivating the hearts of children and adults alike. With its catchy tune and playful lyrics, this traditional English nursery rhyme has left an indelible mark on the world of children’s literature and music.

oranges and lemons lyrics Modern version

Oranges and lemons,

Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

“Oranges and Lemons” Original lyrics

Two Sticks and Apple,
Ring ye Bells at Whitechapple,
Old Father Bald Pate,
Ring ye Bells Aldgate,
Maids in White Aprons,
Ring ye Bells a St. Catherines,
Oranges and Lemmons,
Ring ye bells at St. Clemens,
When will you pay me,
Ring ye Bells at ye Old Bailey,
When I am Rich,
Ring ye Bells at Fleetditch,
When will that be,
Ring ye Bells at Stepney,
When I am Old,
Ring ye Bells at Pauls

Origins of “Oranges and Lemons” Nursery Rhyme:

The origins of the “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme can be traced back to the 18th century in England. It is believed that the rhyme was sung during the time of the Great Plague, where the bells of various churches played a significant role in conveying messages and signaling deaths. This nursery rhyme was used to teach children about the geography of London through the names of different churches mentioned in its verses.

See also  Down by the Station Nursery Rhyme Childhood Joy

Unraveling the Symbolism:

The lyrics of “Oranges and Lemons” contain rich symbolism that has intrigued both children and scholars for centuries. The oranges and lemons mentioned in the rhyme symbolize different aspects of life, such as sweetness, bitterness, and the cycle of seasons. The bells, on the other hand, represent the passage of time and the inevitable changes that life brings.

Literary Significance and Educational Value:

Nursery rhymes, including “Oranges and Lemons,” serve more than just entertainment purposes. They play a vital role in a child’s development by enhancing language skills, memory retention, and cognitive abilities. The simple and repetitive nature of these rhymes helps in building a strong foundation for language learning and cultural awareness.

Cultural Impact and Adaptations:

Over the years, “Oranges and Lemons” has transcended time and cultural boundaries, gaining popularity in various parts of the world. This section will explore the different adaptations and variations of the nursery rhyme in different languages and cultures, showcasing its universal appeal.

Influence on Music and Literature:

The influence of “Oranges and Lemons” extends beyond nursery rhymes, as it has inspired countless musicians, writers, and artists across various genres. From classical compositions to modern-day reinterpretations, the rhyme’s impact on the world of music and literature has been profound.

The Psychology of Nursery Rhymes:

Nursery rhymes, including “Oranges and Lemons,” have a significant psychological impact on children’s minds. This section will delve into the reasons behind their memorability, the power of repetition, and how they aid in emotional development and creativity.

Educational Applications:

Educators have recognized the potential of nursery rhymes like “Oranges and Lemons” in the learning process. This section will explore how teachers and parents can incorporate the nursery rhyme into educational settings to make learning more engaging and effective.

See also  Teddy Bears Picnic Nursery Rhymes A Delight for Kids and Families

The Resilience of Oral Tradition:

Despite the technological advancements and changing media landscapes, nursery rhymes like “Oranges and Lemons” continue to thrive in the realm of oral tradition. This section will discuss the reasons behind their enduring popularity and their role in preserving cultural heritage.

Impact on Popular Culture:

The influence of “Oranges and Lemons” extends beyond its traditional context. In this section, we will explore how the nursery rhyme has been featured in movies, TV shows, commercials, and other aspects of popular culture, solidifying its place in contemporary society.

Preserving the Legacy:

As the world continues to evolve, it is crucial to preserve cultural treasures like “Oranges and Lemons” for future generations. This section will discuss the efforts made to safeguard the nursery rhyme’s legacy, including digitization and archiving initiatives.


Q1: What is the meaning behind the phrase “Here comes a candle to light you to bed” in “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme?
A1: The phrase refers to the end of the day, where a candle is used to provide light before going to bed. It symbolizes the transition from day to night and signifies the passing of time.

Q2: Are there any other versions of the “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme with additional verses?
A2: Yes, several variations of the nursery rhyme exist, with different additional verses depending on regional and cultural adaptations.

Q3: What are the key lessons that children can learn from the “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme?
A3: The nursery rhyme teaches children about London’s geography, the value of fruits like oranges and lemons, and the significance of bells in signaling important events.

See also  Did You Ever See a Lassie Nursery Rhyme


The “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme holds a special place in the hearts of people worldwide, symbolizing not only the innocence of childhood but also the timeless wisdom it imparts. As we continue to sing these cherished verses to our children, we pass on a piece of history and culture that transcends generations. From its mysterious origins to its impact on popular culture, “Oranges and Lemons” remains an enduring emblem of our shared human heritage. Let us preserve and celebrate this timeless melody, keeping it alive in the hearts and minds of children for generations to come.

Leave a Comment